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Canada's Top Travel Rewards Credit Cards for 2011 - Factors

Here we look at the factors taken into account and some of the reasons why some rankings changed from last year

We look at various factors including cost of ownership, rate of return, ease of redemption, card acceptance, partnerships, issuing bank and benefits. Coupled with ten years of research, answers to hundreds of email questions from readers plus the charts and articles that we have written provides us the insight into the pros and cons of each card.

Reasons for ranking changes from 2010

Travel Points Credit Cards (with Annual Fee)

The only change in this category came in 5th place with the MBNA Travel Rewards Platinum MasterCard knocking out the Desjardins Platinum Visa. The reason is in part due to reader feedback and some greater research on our part. Overall The MBNA card provides a better rate of return then the Desjardins when you book flights using MBNA's reward schedule.

Travel Points Credit Card (with no annual fee)
This category did not change from 2010

Hybrid Travel Credit Card (with annual fee)
This category had some of the biggest changes with new cards arriving this past year from American Express and CIBC. Overall the best card in this category is still the Diners Club Club Rewards MasterCard, however since the card is not open to new applicants until sometime in 2012 we could not give it first place. That being said, when the new American Express Gold Rewards Card stormed onto the scene last fall we knew it would shake up the hybrid card category. With double points awarded on a large selection of purchases (Gas, Grocery, Drug Store and Travel) plus the ability to transfer to Aeroplan on a 1:1 basis this card proved itself a winner. Knocked down to second, the RBC Visa Infinite Avion card, is still a great card but it does not offer the earning potential or flexibility of the American Express Gold Rewards card. The TD First Class Infinite Visa moved ahead of the CIBC Aventura because of greater flexibility, customer response and with American Airlines tie up with WestJet more availability for those who transfer their TD Rewards points to the AAdvantage program. Finally, CIBC introduced a World MasterCard version of their Aventura card. The card is basically the same as the Visa version of the Aventura cards but with better benefits. For our rankings we replaced the CIBC Aventura Visa Infinite with this World MasterCard as it negates the Visa card, why would you get the Visa card when you can go for the World MasterCard with more benefits.

Airline Credit Card
This category saw two cards move into the top five. First was the newly released Capital One® Delta SkyMiles® World MasterCard® and we gave it third place because of the earning and benefits coupled with the fact that after Air Canada and WestJet, Delta serves more cities in Canada then any other airline. We moved the TD AAdvantage Platinum Visa to 5th spot knocking out the Bank of America (MBNA) Alaska Airlines Platinum MasterCard because of AA's new relationship with WestJet. Although you cannot redeem the miles yet for WestJet flights that carry an American Airlines codeshare you will be able to in the near future. In the meantime, AAdvantage members can earn miles for the flights codeshared on WestJet plus the TD AAdvantage card holders earn double miles for American Airlines flights which technically includes their codeshares on WestJet.

Hotel Credit Card
What can we say about this category? The only change is the addition of the Priority Club Rewards MasterCards from Capital One® and the World version is a straight up challenger to last years top card, the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express. Ultimately we had to make it a tie as we could not pick a clear winner. The SPG card is better for those looking for better elite status perks, better availability and better transfer to airline frequent flyer programs while the Priority Club card is better for those looking for a hotel programs with lots of hotels in Canada and Worldwide and/or an extensive benefits package. Perhaps if one of these cards changes their offerings or the program attached to them makes changes then we may find a clear winner for 2012

“The interest rates, fees, rewards details, benefits and other details of the Capital One product(s) described in the article may have changed since the time of publication. Please consult the product information pages on the Capital One website for accurate product details. In the event of any conflict between the product details in this article and the Capital One website, the details on the Capital One website shall prevail.”

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